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Director: Mike Figgis

I really did not expect to hate this film, but I did. I was really thinking I would love it or that it would be just good at worst. My major beef with this film is its lack of exposition. With very little back story given for either of the main characters what we are left with is debauchery for debauchery's sake. Ben (Cage) has decided to go to Las Vegas to drink himself to death. Apparently this is because of his ex-wife and child. However we are given no insight into this relationship and why it would push him to such a tragic existence. Enter Serah (Shue) a Las Vegas prostitute with all kinds of demons of her own. Most notably an abusive pimp who could be the character to give us some insight into Serah's psyche. Instead we are given no reason as to how she came to be a prostitute or came to be entangled with her pimp. We know simply that there is conflict between these two characters and when the film no longer needs him he simply disappears.


The pimp is not the only device that Figgis uses inconsistently. Ben's sexual appetite seems to come and go as is convenient for emotional impact. We see him inappropriately proposition more than one women but when he finally gets Serah to his room he simply wants a night of cuddling. Of course this makes him irresistible to the prostitute who is treated like a piece of meat by all the men she comes in contact with. So their relationship begins, one in where we still learn nothing about them but the fact that neither party wants to be told by the other that they should end their self abuse.


I love a film with tragically flawed characters. Characters who are entertaining sides of humanity that most of us thankfully will never have to experience. I want these characters to be in their situation for a reason however. I want to understand their motivations. Then I can sympathize and go on their emotional journey with them. This never comes close to happening to me in Leaving Las Vegas. I think the line in the film that is supposed to grab us, to make us understand what love is all about is when Serah tells Ben "I love you the way you are". Maybe that work for Serah but as a movie goer I want to have a little insight into why you are the way you are.
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Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
Very nice reviews sean. I've got to say I'm rather disheartened to see yet another review for Elysium which seems to place it in the camp of perfectly decent-good as opposed to excellent. Like you my expectations for it had become pretty huge and was hoping/expecting to see loads of reviews absolutely raving about it. So far just about every review I've come across however has been a 3 or a 3.5. I'm certainly still very interested in seeing it but my hopes have been tempered a bit.



I can kill it for you even more, JD.

My sister saw it with her b/f and liked it while he didn't. He's a big sci-fi nut and she has no taste in film at all. That said, she likes crappy Stallone and Arnie films, so you might not agree that she has no taste.
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Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
I can kill it for you even more, JD.
Why would you do that to me? And more importantly why do you apparently take such pleasure in it?!

That said, she likes crappy Stallone and Arnie films, so you might not agree that she has no taste.
Says the guy that likes/loves Commando and Predator (even if the latter gets worse every time you see it). And I think I quite like the sounds of your sister. This boyfriend of hers.....is it serious? Does she like a Scottish accent?



Why would you do that to me? And more importantly why do you apparently take such pleasure in it?!
Because I'm an evil, evil man.

Says the guy that likes/loves Commando and Predator (even if the latter gets worse every time you see it).
Yes, but those are the good ones. I'm talking D-Tox and Junior.

Does she like a Scottish accent?
She does. In fact, she likes lots of those funny/annoying/indecipherable accents.





2013 Director: Scott McGehee, David Siegel

The story of a divorce through a six year old's eyes. This is no ordinary divorce however, at least I hope not. These people may be the most self centered people to ever conceive a child. For proof of this you need to look no further than the fact that Maisie connects with both her step parents far more than she ever does with her own mother and father.


Everything in this film is through Maisie's eyes so we get little insight into the adult's motivations in this film. This works in favor of the film as we sympathize with Maisie at every turn, as we should. It does work against the film somewhat as well however. The film does not pack the emotional punch I expected due to not having a very strong grasp of where the adults are headed and why. We simply understand this set of adults is neglecting this child and this set of adults is providing what she needs.



What Maisie Knew will still tug at your heart strings a little though.
What Maisie Knew is a simple film with a straight forward narrative. It has good but not great performances. There are some very touching moments and some that feel more than a little forced. Worth the watch but nothing that will stay with you for very long.








I keep seeing this advertised, but it just doesn't appeal to me in the slightest. Glad you liked it enough.
I get not being interested for sure. I'm divorced with a kid about this age, so I was expecting a tearjerker.



Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
Because I'm an evil, evil man.

She does. In fact, she likes lots of those funny/annoying/indecipherable accents.
Yeah I'm starting to understand that!

I'm going to be the bigger man and ignore that casual racism! So your sister....got a picture of her?






2012 Director: Michael Haneke

This is a perfect example of the director elevating the material. The narrative is simple. A couple growing old together, one of them gets ill, and the other has to watch the person they have given everything to fade away. Haneke engages us beyond this simple narrative however. He does so visually and by always keeping the complexities of the story at arms length.


Haneke's static shots are perfect, as they always are. Most of the film takes place in the couples apartment but that doesn't keep the film from being beautiful to look at. The furniture, the way a door is painted, the kitchen, or the bookcase in the living room. I have never been so enamored with the mundane the way I am when viewing a Haneke film. I also loved the way that the first scene in Amour mirrors the final scene in Cache. You have a simple static shot full of people. In the case of Amour it takes place in a theater. We just spend a short couple of minutes watching people in it exist, but it is mesmerizing. Of course we are searching for someone we know, and eventually you find them. The point is it doesn't matter if you find them or not. They are just existing in this space like all of those around them.


Haneke also has such a unique style to his story telling. We are introduced to a couple of people who have been a part of this couples life. One is a student and the other is their daughter. It is obvious that they have effected both of these peoples life in both a positive and negative manner. Haneke never gives us enough to let us know exactly how but just enough for us to have something to chew on. Ultimately I think he wants us to draw our own conclusions, to fill in the blanks. Most of the time this would be a strategy that would annoy me and remove me from the film, but somehow with a Haneke film it mostly works.


I think that the ending of this film is one that could spark some controversy. There have been other films that have ended in a similar manner, and I feel that it works. In real life such an ending would be appalling, but when taken in the context of storytelling I think it is effective. Like the other Haneke films I have seen I really liked Amour, however I can't help but feel that if he would just give me a little more to grab hold of I would be in love with his films.










1924 Director: Buster Keaton

My first ever silent film, thanks to DanielM for finally making me man up. Unfortunately the experience was exactly what I thought it would be. It was like watching a long version of the clips I have seen hundreds of times in commercials and in other movies. It is all about the sight gags and in 2013 sight gags aint what they used to be. I am sure what Keaton was doing in 1924 was unique and engaging, I am willing to grade on that scale. That only goes so far with me however and the fact that I never laughed once in a comedy has to go into my grading as well. After all I have laughed at Abbot and Costello and I Love Lucy and even the Three Stooges on a rare occasion. The other thing that struck me while watching Sherlock Jr was that the text was completely unnecessary. We could have understood each and every thing that was going on without a word of it. It seems even in 1924 silent films directors didn't trust us to engage with the story without spelling it out for us.

So I enjoyed four of the sight gags, and that will be enough to get Buster some popcorn points from me, which is what made him get into making films I am sure. I thought the sticky trash that he puts onto the man's shoe was good, that received an actual smile from me if not a laugh. Keaton exiting the train by way of the water tower was pretty cool. Running and jumping through the open briefcase was a nifty trick. Lastly the bike ride with no driver was enjoyable.

I am glad that being on movie forums has made me break down and watch some films that I probably wouldn't have otherwise. I will not be adding the rest of Keaton's filmography to my watch list however.





Ah well, at least you tried it and didn't totally hate it I guess! I watched it a couple of times as it is short for a feature film, but I will say I didn't really 'laugh out loud' for a lot of it, but for most the film I was smiling with delight at Keaton's on screen antics and tricks



Ah well, at least you tried it and didn't totally hate it I guess! I watched it a couple of times as it is short for a feature film, but I will say I didn't really 'laugh out loud' for a lot of it, but for most the film I was smiling with delight at Keaton's on screen antics and tricks
The brisk 45 minutes make a difference for sure. When I was married I sat through dozens of CSI and Grey's Anatomy episodes that were longer, so this was no biggie.



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Registered User
Regarding the Leaving Las Vegas review and the fact you wanted the character's backstory- Sometimes there is no real story or reason why people end up this way. And Ben's up and down sexual urges are very common in drunks. Drunks often like the chase, but the drink is ultimately more important. This was a pretty realistic movie, but obviously not a movie for everyone.



I am obviously in the minority when it comes to this film. It simply felt inconsistent to me. This is a subject that hits home in a lot of ways to. I love it when a film has the guts to portray alcoholism in a realistic way but Leaving Las Vegas came up short for me.





2013 Director: Sarah Polley

Polley has made an incredibly engaging documentary about her family and the events surrounding her mother's death. She simply sits down her brothers and sisters, her father, and some close family friends and asks them to recount the story in their own words from their own perspective. What the film becomes is an exercise in revealing the truth. How we all make our own truth based on our perspective, relationships, and experiences. Each player in Polley's story has a slightly different take on the amazing story that unfolds before us. Every single person is a sympathetic character, none are trying to be misleading. Each of them is simply conveying the story from their truth of what transpired. They all love Polley's mother, yet they all recognize her strengths and weaknesses as well.


Polley's story is nothing short of extraordinary. The fact that she is willing to share it with the world shows a lot of courage. That is not the amazing part of the film for me though. The fact that she chose to tell the story this way, to tell us the story while also closely examining why and how we tell stories the way we do is genius. Polley is quickly becoming one of my favorite film makers. I cannot wait to see what project she takes on next. Meanwhile Stories We Tell is far and way my second favorite film of the year thus far.








Gangster Rap is Shakespeare for the Future
It is all about the sight gags and in 2013 sight gags aint what they used to be
I'm not sure what you mean with this statement. Sight gags don't happen anymore in film (besides Edgar Wright to a small extent) because they're way more difficult to coordinate and come up with. It's way easier to build comedic dialogue because it's how everybody communicates humor regularly. It's a uniquely cinematic form of humor (the faux mirror shot is great), it should be held in much higher regard than dialogue. If you dislike sight gags, you'll love Jacques Tati. Keaton's humor is not even entirely visual based. There's his recurring partner, some humorous title cards, and the ending are not strict, or at all dated, visual humor.
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I'm not sure what you mean with this statement. Sight gags don't happen anymore in film (besides Edgar Wright to a small extent) because they're way more difficult to coordinate and come up with. It's way easier to build comedic dialogue because it's how everybody communicates humor regularly. It's a uniquely cinematic form of humor (the faux mirror shot is great), it should be held in much higher regard than dialogue. If you dislike sight gags, you'll love Jacques Tati. Keaton's humor is not even entirely visual based. There's his recurring partner, some humorous title cards, and the ending are not strict, or at all dated, visual humor.
It may be more unique, but for me it is not funny anymore. A banana peel gag, really? I am all about the dialogue. I can respect that Keaton was a pioneer, and some of the tricks were pretty cool. In the end though it doesn't make me laugh which is all I want a comedy to do. So I can't see any of these types of films ever being among my faves.



Gangster Rap is Shakespeare for the Future
It may be more unique, but for me it is not funny anymore. A banana peel gag, really? I am all about the dialogue. I can respect that Keaton was a pioneer, and some of the tricks were pretty cool. In the end though it doesn't make me laugh which is all I want a comedy to do. So I can't see any of these types of films ever being among my faves.
Yes, a banana peel gag, one of the smallest and least significant jokes in the film. Though even that poked fun of the usual banana peel gag. It's strange that you picked something so minor to criticize instead of describing any of the later set pieces or gags which (thematically purposefully) become much more complex and integral to the film than that as the film continues.